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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review - Salman Rushdie's SHAME

First released in 1983, the book covers a period in Pakistan history where tensions between the West and Pakistan were very high. The families of two men - one a warrior, the other a playboy get woven inextricably together which eventually affects the politics of the country. Set in the fictitious city of Q Rushdie weaves a tale of fact, fiction and high passion that is amazing though for me sometimes the story seems to leap too far into the future too soon and then takes a step back.

The book seems to highlight the oppression of women in Pakistan along with the sense of inequality that exists. At the same time the women portrayed in the book cannot be said to be the average Jane! None of the women are average. They either seem to be bigger than life or fade into the background completely so that they do not give us the view of being a typical Pakistani woman.

The young woman Sufiya Zenobia who embodies the perception of Shame, is from birth different. First expected as the son to replace the stillborn son her birth is not accepted by her father who insists that she is a boy. An illness whilst a child gives her the mental age of a seven year old throughout her life but at the same time empowers her with magical powers of brute force and strength. Imagined and supernatural both intermix in the telling of the story which also keeps you turning the page expecting something more from each page you turn. You never know how this story is going to turn out and that is Rushdie's cleverness.

When this book first came out it was considered ground breaking. It is used as a text for Advanced Level English literature in Sri Lanka and I am glad of this. Female inequality and oppression have not existed fortunately in our country for decades and though some minor form of discrimination may still exist it is minimal. It is good that students are able to learn that such inequalities exist specially in the region itself and are aware of how lucky we are!!!

I would consider this a must read for all.


  1. For some reason, I've always been intimidated by Rushdie's work, but the more I read about him on blogs, the more I realize I need to try his work. Wonderful review!

  2. Stopping by on the hop. Thanks for visiting my blog. :)

  3. I really like Rushdie. It's no surprise I'm sure to say that he won my heart with Midnight's Children but I haven't heard of Shame. Looks like another one to add to my list. Thanks for the review!

  4. Greta review. I have never read a book by him but I always wanted to

  5. I like Rusdie also-so far I have read Midnight's Children and The Enchantress of Florence-in time I hope to read more-

  6. This is one of the few Rushdie novels I haven't read, but your review makes me really want to pick it up soon!

    I hope you don't mind that I added a link to your review to the South Asian Review Database.